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Mega Drive. Yeah!


strider
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1 hour ago, Down by Law said:

Though it's expensive, the Mega CD version is my favourite, the redbook audio soundtrack is excellent

 

 

I'd love to get a Mega-CD again but it's a classic case of all the games I want are far too expensive so it's simply not worth it :(

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5 minutes ago, strider said:

I'd love to get a Mega-CD again but it's a classic case of all the games I want are far too expensive so it's simply not worth it :(

 

I've also not found the consoles themselves to be particularly reliable - I have two Mk1 Mega CDs which both fail to work. I do have a repair kit for one of them (basically a set of new capacitors), but I've never gotten around to actually doing the repair.

 

Instead I kind of cheated and bought a Mega Everdrive Pro. It does the job brilliantly.

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41 minutes ago, ScouserInExile said:

Can someone explain Sonic to me, please?

 

I've realised I basically haven't played much of them - I've played a bit of the first one, but I don't think I've got much past the first zone, I can't remember having played the second one and I definitely haven't played the third. 

 

For some reason, I fancy giving them a go.

 

Looking at the ROMs I have, I've got:

Sonic 1 Spindash and Sonic 1 Gaslight, which I'm guessing are ROM hacks of some description. Sonic 1, Sonic 2, Sonic 3, Sonic & Knuckles, Sonic & Knuckles Sonic 1, Sonic & Knuckles Sonic 2, Sonic & Knuckles Sonic 3, Sonic Special Stages and Sonic Spinball. 

 

Where do I start and which ones are worth playing?

 

Well, chronologically, it's Sonic 1, Sonic CD, Sonic 2, Sonic 3, then Sonic and Knuckles, though I wouldn't exactly worry about playing them out of order - it's not like you're going to be missing some incredible, linear plot or anything. @Rex Grossman is right though, Sonic Mania is the best, followed by Sonic 2. I know people raved about it at the time, but for some reason I've never quite been able to get into Sonic 3. Sonic CD is pretty great, but ideally you want the Japanese version, because it's 60Hz and has the better soundtrack. They changed up all the music for the US release, for some reason.

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2 minutes ago, Zio said:

 

I've also not found the consoles themselves to be particularly reliable - I have two Mk1 Mega CDs which both fail to work. I do have a repair kit for one of them (basically a set of new capacitors), but I've never gotten around to actually doing the repair.

 

Instead I kind of cheated and bought a Mega Everdrive Pro. It does the job brilliantly.

I've got access to a Polymega so I could get around the unreliable hardware that way but any PAL stuff I wanted couldn't be forced into 60HZ. I've got an Everdrive but I don't think it plays Mega CD games.

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Just now, strider said:

I've got access to a Polymega so I could get around the unreliable hardware that way but any PAL stuff I wanted couldn't be forced into 60HZ. I've got an Everdrive but I don't think it plays Mega CD games.

 

Mega CD games can be awkward like that. You can't boot the console into 60Hz mode because the firmware will give you an error saying you have it attached to the wrong region Mega Drive. So instead you have to switch it to 60Hz whilst your game is loading.

 

In hindsight, I guess this might explain why I have two broken consoles.

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On Sonic, if you're playing ROMs rather than carts, then two tips:

  • For Sonic 1, play the JP version rather than the NTSC-US one. It was released a bit later and has some extra finishing touches added like extra parallax scrolling and water ripples. No language issues.
  • For Sonic 3 / Sonic & Knuckles, just get the Sonic 3 Complete romhack. Basically These two games were originally planned as one, but had to be cut in half to meet the shipping date, resulting in the innovative lock-on-cart approach for delivering the other half the game. Sonic 3 complete glues them back together seamlessly.

I really need to try Sonic CD on my Mega Everdrive Pro. As I understand it, it's a sort of evolutionary dead end, developing different ideas than the parallel-developed Sonic 2, which won out to be the series template.

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6 minutes ago, Alexlotl said:

I really need to try Sonic CD on my Mega Everdrive Pro. As I understand it, it's a sort of evolutionary dead end, developing different ideas than the parallel-developed Sonic 2, which won out to be the series template.

 

Yeah, it has a slightly different mechanic for speeding off from a standing start than Sonic 2 IIRC, plus it features a time-travel mechanic, whereby each stage has a past, present and future variant you can flip between. I don't think I ever quite understood it correctly, because as far as I was aware, it basically meant travelling to the past in each stage as soon as you could and locating and destroying Robotnik's machine turning the cute animals into robot monsters. There's also a very different (and much better looking) robot Sonic compared to the one in Sonic 2. And the bonus stages are vaguely Mario Kart mode 7-esque affairs.

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A little tip for a Sonic virgin, yes: he can run fast, but there are some tricky platforming bits in the original games which you need to navigate carefully. Thankfully he controls well, and it’s fun to chuck him around the stages.

 

The games do a good job of communicating this to you though, and they have plenty of loops and corkscrews and other fast bits, but these are usually followed by a vertical ramp or a rock to slow you down or stop you completely. Just make sure you don’t ignore these! A rule of thumb is that if it doesn’t look like you were meant to run through it, maybe slow it down a bit.

 

They’re all really good and have aged brilliantly, though I’ve never been a fan of Sonic CD. As mentioned above, Sonic 3 & Knuckles Complete is great and the best version of those games, and vanilla Sonic 2 is probably the best of the Mega Drive games overall. It has a stunning art style, the levels are short and sweet, and it’s still fun to blitz through.

 

But yes, I agree that Sonic Mania is the best Sonic game. Wonderful sequel.

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37 minutes ago, Paulando said:

A little tip for a Sonic virgin, yes: he can run fast, but there’s also some tricky platforming in the original games that you need to navigate carefully. Thankfully he controls well, and it’s fun to chuck him around the stages.

 

The games do a good job of communicating this to you though, and they have plenty of loops and corkscrews and other fast bits, but these are usually followed by a vertical ramp or a rock to slow you down or stop you completely. Just make sure you don’t ignore these! A rule of thumb is that if it doesn’t look like you were meant to run through it, maybe slow it down a bit.

 

Although Sonic 1 enjoys giving you speed shoes immediately prior to difficult platforming sections, just to trick you. See also giving you invincibility shortly before areas with fatal drops.

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Took Delivery of the new Darius Extra Version from strictlylimited at Christmas time.

 

Sadly - it crashes - as does the replacement they sent me. I'm using a modified model-1 PAL (with region and 50/60 switch). Anyone here have this game? Ive been offered a refund but it's such a nice port it's a real shame. I've thrown PAL,US,JP and even repro of MUSHA at this machine and it works with them all - except this. :(

 

 

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3 minutes ago, davyK said:

Took Delivery of the new Darius Extra Version from strictlylimited at Christmas time.

 

Sadly - it crashes - as does the replacement they sent me. I'm using a modified model-1 PAL (with region and 50/60 switch). Anyone here have this game? Ive been offered a refund but it's such a nice port it's a real shame. I've thrown PAL,US,JP and even repro of MUSHA at this machine and it works with them all - except this. :(

 

I was aware of some kind of issue because the Bullet Heaven review mentioned it not running properly on their default console - but my modded model 1 PAL (also with region / language switches) runs it fine.

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Sorry to hear about your Darius 🙁 I've just had the Japanese version turn up and it runs fine on my modded machine. No crashing at all. It's disappointing you're experiencing issues with the Strictly Limited one.

In other Mega Drive shooter news I sold off a large amount of games and had this beauty turn up. It's in such amazing condition I thought it was a fake!

 

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On 18/02/2022 at 21:54, Down by Law said:

Had some bitmap books advert pop up earlier - Sega Mega Drive a visual history and Go Straight - a 450 page book dedicated to beat em ups with a Streets of Rage inspired title - the later which is out next week 😁

 

 

 

 

Go_StraightBookCover_672x672.jpg?v=16332

MasterBookCover_94da3388-0b11-445c-a061-


Got the digital version of the Go Straight book yesterday with the real thing arriving on Monday. 
 

Only had a quick look at it so far, but it looks glorious. Can’t wait to go through it properly over the next few days. 

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4 hours ago, strider said:

Sorry to hear about your Darius 🙁 I've just had the Japanese version turn up and it runs fine on my modded machine. No crashing at all. It's disappointing you're experiencing issues with the Strictly Limited one.

In other Mega Drive shooter news I sold off a large amount of games and had this beauty turn up. It's in such amazing condition I thought it was a fake!

 

 

Is there a difference between the versions apart from the cart shape?  I was under the impression it was the same ROM.

 

I've been offered a replacement again (they are refunding me the return postage) but I'm not sure if it's worth the hassle.

 

 

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36 minutes ago, davyK said:

 

Is there a difference between the versions apart from the cart shape?  I was under the impression it was the same ROM.

 

I've been offered a replacement again (they are refunding me the return postage) but I'm not sure if it's worth the hassle.

 

 

I’m unsure to be honest. No way to open up without ruining the back.

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1 hour ago, davyK said:

 

Is there a difference between the versions apart from the cart shape?  I was under the impression it was the same ROM.

 

I've been offered a replacement again (they are refunding me the return postage) but I'm not sure if it's worth the hassle.

 

It's the same ROM.

 

You're probably unlucky with your particular console not playing nice.

 

At around the 11.25 point this reviewer explains that Darius Extra was effectively incompatible with his JPN MD2 but worked 'flawlessly' with his other consoles:

 

 

On a kind of related note, my Mega Drive doesn't run a recent SMS homebrew it absolutely should (Heroes & Demons). The game doesn't fully initialise and the author has no idea why. I was even sent a few alternate builds to test prior to the game getting physically manufactured but they all acted identically i.e. with clear distaste for my console. 

 

I guess one way to test out whether it's a manufacturing or an incompatibility issue is to test a dump of Darius Extra out via a flashcart. 

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  • 3 months later...

After not touching NTSC-J MD games since I started collecting games in 2009 I've finally started collecting them. 

 

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My Japanese collection will mostly be to complement my PAL collection rather than replace it. The Mega Drive was my first console so I've got huge amounts of nostalgia for it and playing the games in 50hz feels right because it's all I knew as a kid. I did get Bare Knuckle 3 and FotNS to improve on my PAL copies though as SOR3 is too bloody difficult and Last Battle is shite, adding Kenshiro and the gore makes it tolerable. 

 

Street Smart and XDR are both properly shite games, but I wanted to try them for myself :facepalm:

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The final two boss battles in MWIII are also difficulty jacked in the western versions, ridiculously so for the final boss. It’s literally impossible to avoid its attacks, you just have to deal damage as quickly as possible before it kills you.

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Interesting, I didn't realise that about MWIII, it's just one I never picked the PAL copy up of. Glad I went straight for the Japanese copy.

 

It's amazing how often they did cheap things like that. From what I've read it was often due to the rental market in the west being allowed and flourishing. Some games (like Bare Knuckle 3) they completely changed the difficulty, others they just stuck cheap bosses in that often saw difficulty spikes in games.

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Yeah I used to have Bare Knuckle III and I was able to actually beat it though it's still far harder than SoR2 imo. Areas like the Bulldozer attack just sap so much life (could never hammer the buttons fast enough to beat it back).

 

I sold mine several years ago as it had pretty much tripled in value since I originally bought it. I did take a high-res scan of the inlay though and get an A3 print of the stunning cover art produced to hang on my wall. It's probably the only SoR/BK cover that doesn't have some sort of gawky/weird anatomy. Whoever the artist was...well, I just wish I knew. Blaze looks fit as f*** on the BKIII cover lol

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29CBC17C-A6AD-4231-A149-64BECEC50373.thumb.jpeg.477ebe1bd447e828e1f7cd7e8d99aaaa.jpeg

 

Theres been a few homebrew MD games that I’ve wanted to get like Demon’s of Asteborg. So had to pick up a region free console. The prices of games though! Makes me regret selling my nice little Japanese MD collection in the 00’s. Picked up a cart off Etsy with every Master system, Mega drive and 32X game across all regions on it so that I’m never tempted to go down that rabbit hole 😅

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A mate asked me what my favourite five MD shooters are because Shmup Junkie is preparing a video which ranks all of them. After a little thought I settled on these:

 

- Musha Aleste

- Hellfire

- Battle Mania Daiginjou

- Gleylancer

- Darius Extra Version

 

And threw some pseudo shooters in another category because they kinda sorta count in mind and are generally overlooked:

 

- Chelnov

- Sub-Terrania

- Ranger X

 

Another mate was telling me about his recent first time (!?) playing Gunstar Heroes, because he remembers me being obsessed with it when we were kids. He remembers correctly; The mine cart level, Seven Force, the Dice Maze, the whole final gauntlet where you're being watched on a massive screen by the bosses, the undocumented moves and polish and humour and thoughtful two player mechanic..It was absolutely mind-blowing.

 

Back to the present time though I've found myself wanting to find copy of Lord Monarch pretty badly, as I adore it too much to just have the fan translation hidden away on a flashcart

 

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Interesting on your top 5 shooters. I feel like the MD is one of the few consoles where there's no definitive list of top shooters. I can't wait to see how Shmup Junkie ranks them. Even the PC Engine and Saturn I imagine most people's top 5's would mainly consist of the same ~10 games. 

 

I think mine would probably be something like:

 

Fire Shark

Tatsujin

Zero Wing

Gynoug

Empire of Steel

 

I imagine a lot of people would have Thunderforce games in their list although I don't really get on with them.

 

And yeah, Gunstar Heroes is truly immense. I played it a bit as a kid but never bought it, I don't think I could ever complete the mine cart boss. It was mind blowing at the time, I guess it still kind of is when you consider what they did with on a 16 bit system.

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Top 5 MD Shooters?

 

1. Gaiares

2. Hellfire

3. Thunderforce III

4. Thunderforce IV

5. Gynoug

 

Honourable mention to Twin Hawk which is kind of slow and plodding but is also strangely hypnotic.

 

Those pseudo shooters mentioned above are also all excellent games. I'd add Granada to that list.

 

Edit - 

By the way, if you haven't tried it, Gaiares plays much better on a PAL machine. The slightly slower speed makes it much more manageable and it still feels plenty fast enough to still be a challenge - it's just not quite so hair-pullingly tough.

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